Some time before 1162 a Mongol girl named Hoelun was kidnapped and taken as a bride. A short time later she gave birth to a future emperor. Although the details of her story are shrouded in mystery, the tales that are told of her reveal a wealth of information about steppe culture and hint at the motivations of her son as he rewrote the very fabric of that society.
When popes are elected today, the cardinals of the Catholic Church meet in secret conclave. But it wasn't always so. In the 9th through 11th centuries, control of the Chair of St. Peter was fiercely contested between several Roman families, who put their sons, brothers, and lovers on the papal throne. In this episode, we will look at the murders, depositions, adultery, illicit relationships, trials of papal cadavers, and debauched behavior that allegedly characterized this period, as well as the important role played by two Roman noblewomen--Theodora and Marozia Theophylacti--that led some 19th century historians to label this as a "pornocracy."
The arrival of the printing press on the scene of early modern Europe helped to spread seditious ideas that became the Protestant Reformation. Monarchs across Europe and beyond had to establish new policies governing regarding the publication and distribution of potentially dangerous ideas. In this episode, Lesley describes a few laws designed to keep information under control and shares what might happen when a printer ignored the law to publish radical, challenging ideas.
When we think of medieval Europe, knights, jousting, and sword fights come to mind. New light has been shed on fighting practices in medieval Europe, however, by the discovery of treatises, some of which describe the techniques employed and taught by Jewish fighting masters. Join Elizabeth as she delves into this little known field of fighting styles and learn about how you too can learn to fight like a medieval European.
In late medieval Europe, groups of women called beguines assembled in twos and threes, or in large communities, to practice the religious life. They lived simply, served the poor and sick, and sometimes engaged in business. But unlike nuns, they didn’t take vows. So what did it mean to be a beguine? This episode takes on that question, on which both medieval authorities and modern scholars have disagreed.
According to a plaque on the Brooklyn Bridge “back of every great work we can find the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman.” Indeed, when John Roebling died and his son, Washington, was struck ill it was Washington’s young wife Emily Warren Roebling who worked day and night to ensure that the Brooklyn Bridge was built.
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